There is a clear trend of migrating work conversations from email to team communication tools. But how do you make sure your team chats actually help your team get work done and don’t become a source of distraction and as unproductive as email? The answer lies in the right team chat culture.
Text-based communication has been a part of business communications for a long time. Not every question is urgent enough to justify a phone call, so written messages are great for allowing the receivers to respond at their convenience. While the use of email in business communication is still the norm, we’re already seeing the rise of team chat tools as alternatives to email. However, technology is just the enabler here – great team chat culture is important for making the technology work for you.
This is something we have come to understand while building a modern business messenger: choosing to use great tools is important, but it’s even more important to use them wisely. As we discussed this with our team, it became clear that we’d like to share our ideas about how important team chat culture is in adopting a team communication tool, as well as how it differs from email culture and instant messaging culture.
Our team chat culture in the Fleep team is optimized for productivity. I’ve found that my business communications have become way more effective and less time-consuming since joining the Fleep team.
So how do we use chat? There definitely are some variations within the team, but I’ve found that the following fundamentals of our team chat culture are encouraged:
- Own your focus
This one lays the groundwork for our team chat culture. It is important to be in control of your focus and not let incoming messages distract you. One practical tip for owning your focus is to…
- Mute conversations
We mute conversations that don’t need our constant attention. For example, I have muted our Fun Chat and Offtopic chat – I want to be a part of them, but I don’t need notifications for new messages in those.
Similarly, I have muted all of our conversations about bugs – I need to be part of them to report bugs, but I do not need alerts for new messages from others. Also, as I manage my emails in Fleep, I have made sure all newsletters are muted and I’ve also enabled Automute.
All muted conversations get my attention when I choose to read them, and they do not distract me at any other time.
- Read 1:1 conversations first
One-on-one conversations should get first priority among unread conversations. In these conversations, someone is pinging you directly, so it makes sense to address those first and only then look at group conversations.
Additionally, group conversations where you’ve been @mentioned should get your attention before other team chats. This follows the same logic that someone has posted a message that requires your attention.
- Be concise and to-the-point
For the sake of saving everyone’s time (including your own), brevity is a part of our team chat culture. If you have a question, ask the question and don’t start with “hey, are you there?”.
Similarly, the niceties of the email world become meaningless in the context of team chats. (Unsurprisingly, some of the busiest people in the world have also dropped the niceties in their email culture.)
- Avoid unnecessary noise
Last, but definitely not least, we try to avoid posting meaningless messages in group conversations – like saying “ok” or “got it” – when they add no value. In other team messengers, these kind of messages are often used to confirm you’ve received the message, but in Fleep we have seen-by indicators to serve that purpose.
Additionally, a funny gif at the right place and time can say more than a thousand words, but you may want to think twice before posting one. Will it add value? Is it worth everyone’s attention?
If you’re the team’s key comedian, your input is probably welcome – but having a dedicated chat or two for offtopic comments or jokes may be a good idea for ensuring that work conversations stay on topic.
In our team’s experience, these basics cultivate a good team chat culture. While no culture is set in stone, we have tried to make sure everyone in our team is on the same page in how we use team chat. After all, communications forms the very foundation of company culture.